Nick LaCava, a member of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team, offers his first blog entry upon arrival in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
On Monday we left Princeton, New Jersey and started our trip to London. We took the redeye from New York and arrived early the next day in Heathrow airport. I got off the plane already feeling tired and jetlagged (I’m never able to sleep on planes) but as soon as I saw the welcoming committee that greeted us at the gate, the realization that I was at the Olympics immediately made me forget any fatigue I had been feeling.
We got our credentials there at the airport and quickly loaded a bus to take us to the athlete’s village. The rowers are staying at a satellite village outside of London located on the campus of the Royal Holloway, University of London. Our racing venue is located in Eton and these satellite villages make it easier to travel to and from the course every day.
The first thing all of us noticed as we pulled up to the satellite village was all the security. Army personnel used mirrors to look under our bus to make sure there were no bombs, and guards carrying large guns milled around the gate. Everyone was extremely pleasant; I even got a couple of pictures of some policemen trying not to smile at us.
The satellite village has a dining hall, athlete lounge, gym, laundry, and dormitories. We were all surprised and excited to hear that we get our own rooms during our stay here (this is a big change for me; I’ve been living in the same room with at least one other person for about three years.)
Once we had settled into our rooms and unpacked a little, we left for London to go through processing. This was something most of us had been really looking forward to because it meant we were going to get all our uniforms. After an hour bus ride, we arrived at an innocuous looking building and were greeted by representatives from the USOC, Ralph Lauren, and Nike. Once we got into the building, the first step was to get our opening and closing ceremonies tailored. Next we were handing four bags full of Nike and Ralph Lauren clothes and told to make sure everything fit. There were so many clothes it took about two hours just to try everything on. After that we were given a watch, sunglasses, and toiletries. By the end of the whole process all of us were definitely feeling the jetlag, and it was nice to finally drive back to the satellite village.
Overall it was a pretty exciting first day in England. We had the whole day off from practice (it’s always a little nice to get a break from training) and after a great dinner in the dining hall I went back to my room and went to bed for the night.
Stay tuned for more blog entries from Nick LaCava!